The latest version of this page moved to - Click here


1995 134’ col/scope Tamil/Hindi? d/s Mani Rathnam pc Aalayam dial Sujata lyr Vairamuthu c Rajiv Menon m A.R. Rehman lp Aravind Swamy, Manisha Koirala, Nasser, Kitty, Radhabai, Tinnu Anand

Controversial melodrama set in the 1993 Bombay riots following the destruction of the Babri Masjid by Hindu zealots in December

  1. In a Tamil village, the Hindu Shekhar

(Swamy) falls for a Muslim woman, Shehla Bano (Koirala). When the fathers of both oppose the marriage, the couple elope to Bombay where Shekhar gets a job as a journalist, while Bano gives birth to twin boys. Their personal story is intercut with growing signs of religious fanaticism around them led by saffron-clad members of the Shakti Samaj, an obvious reference to the Shiv Sena. Following the destruction of the mosque, Muslim militants kill two workers, and the Shakti Samaj leader (Anand), referring to Shiv Sena leader Bal Thackeray, leads his party into full-scale reprisals against the city’s large Muslim population. Much of the film’s second half recreates the riot scenes on sets that replicate their original locations with astonishing fidelity. The couple lose their two children in the riots, who are looked after by a transvestite. In the end, after a fervent pacifist plea by Shekhar, the family is reuinted and the secular-minded common folk of both communities pacify the rioters. The film was controversial even before its release, when Amitabh Bachchan, whose company ABCL distributed the Hindi version, sought Thackeray’s ‘approval’ of the film thereby further legitimating his position as an extraconstitutional censor. It was later attacked for its allegedly ‘secular’ credentials, its misrepresentation of widely reported events in order to blame the Muslims for having started the riots, and for its tendency to equate the ‘voice of reason’ with Hindu majoritarianism. Ravi Vasudevan (1996) has published an extensive critique of the film and on its reception.


Last modified 10 years ago Last modified on Dec 26, 2013, 10:38:56 AM